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Cracker Barrel Apologizes, Restores "Duck Dynasty" Merch; Wild Weather Marks Winter's Debut; Cassim Sentenced to One Year in Prison in UAE for YouTube Parody Vid; LEGAL VIEW Year in Review; Class Action Lawsuit in Target Security Breach

Aired December 23, 2013 - 11:00   ET


DEB FEYERICK, CNN HOST: Well, one restaurant chain is now saying it made a mistake pulling "Duck Dynasty" themed products from its shelves.

Plus crazy, wild and extreme weather sweeping across the nation just as many of us get ready to head out for Christmas and New Years. Ice, snow, tornadoes, flooding, even warm temperatures in places, that's right, where it's supposed to be cold. What you can expect in the coming days.

And Target now itself a target of lawsuits after a huge security breach involving millions of shoppers. Two senators now calling for an investigation.

Hello everyone. I'm Deborah Feyerick -- in for Ashleigh Banfield. It is now Monday, December 23rd. Welcome to "LEGAL VIEW".

Well first up this morning, Crackle Barrel's big about face on "Duck Dynasty". The restaurant chain says it never should have yanked up "Duck Dynasty" merchandise from its shelves, the outcry so huge that the restaurant put everything back, two days later.

Cracker Barrel's letter to customers says, quote, "Our intent was to avoid offending, but that's just what we've done. You told us we made a mistake, and you weren't shy about it. You flat-out told us we were wrong. We listened."

"Duck Dynasty" has been the topic of heated debate since the network A&E suspended star Phil Robertson over controversial remarks that he made about homosexuality.

Now, Louisiana's lieutenant governor's speaking out, saying he will use his influence to help keep the show going if A&E will not.

I'm joined now by branding and social media consultant Peter Shankman and the host of CNN's "RELIABLE SOURCES," Brian Stelter.

So, gentlemen, the first thing that I have to ask both of you, are we really surprised? This is a self-described "redneck, yuppie-hating, squirrel-eating, duck-hunting, frog shooter" - or whatever he does with frogs.

First of all, people watch this show because he's honest, so has this been an overreaction? Peter, let me start with you.

PETER SHANKMAN, PRINCIPAL, SHANKMAN HONIQ: That's the problem you have when you have a reality show about rednecks, for lack of a better word, run by a media station based in New York and L.A.

So, you have issues where they're going to say things that are honest to them, but all the sudden, it offends other people.

The show is very scripted. Every reality show is very scripted. So there are things he - I'm sure he said on the show that they edited out or aired out.

The problem was this was an interview with "GQ." "GQ" has no responsibility to A&E.

Did they overreact? I think they were a little afraid about what happened with Paula Deen several months ago and they might have jumped the gun.

Had they not come out and said anything, had they not come out and fired him, this probably would have blown over in a few days. They might have lost a few viewers, but they might have - I think they did overreact a little bit.

FEYERICK: So, Brian, let me ask you. Brian, let me ask you about the issue of scripting, as Peter calls it.

Look, there are a lot of comments that he likely makes during the course of the show. He's complained about the fact that references to Jesus have been removed from the show.

Are these scrubbed to be more politically correct to the larger viewing audience?

BRIAN STELTER, HOST, CNN'S "RELIABLE SOURCES": Reality shows in general are oftentimes semi-scripted, so they - the producers and the stars will know ahead of time what's going to happen, although, some of the lines, the one-liners. are spontaneous and come off the cuff.

On "Duck Dynasty," you are aware that they're a Christian family that's serious about their faith, but you don't see a lot about that. You don't hear a lot about that.

They occasionally will show a prayer or something to that effect, but it's true that some of their comments about their faith and points of view are taken out of the show because the show isn't really about religion. It's really a family comedy.

But the fact that they may feel like their views are sometimes taken out of the show is probably an uncomfortable thing. And it goes to show the really tough situation A&E and the producers are in, when they cast these reality stars.

FEYERICK: People who are potentially controversial, absolutely, so --

STELTER: There might be a great show about religion, but it probably doesn't belong on A&E.

SHANKMAN: Exactly.


So, Peter, let me ask. In terms of Cracker Barrel, did they simply back the wrong team initially. Should they have gone with "Duck Dynasty" (inaudible) and everybody else, even though the comments are indeed hurtful?

SHANKMAN: The comments are hurtful. I think the problem was that everyone jumped the gun. Everyone got very scared and said, oh my God, we have to back away, we have to back away. And then realized it really wasn't that bad. Cracker Barrel, in their defense, did a smart thing, when they realized they were backing the wrong team, they came out and they owned it.

They were transparent and they said, you know what? We listened to the audience, the audience told us that we were wrong and we're changing our view.

And let's face it. For a company like Cracker Barrel, the audience runs that - or the customers run that company, not the managers. The customers can stop going in there, and they did.

So, they did the smart thing and said, OK, we screwed up. We're backing away.

FEYERICK: So Brian, but that raises the larger question.

Do you think that this quick reversal by Cracker Barrel initially to come out and say, oh, these comments were offensive, and then, hey, but most people who eat our stores don't think they're so bad - does it make Cracker Barrel look bad?

STELTER: I think Cracker Barrel has gotten a lot of free publicity in the last few days over this. Some of it's been positive; some of it's been negative. I think at the end the day it probably won't affect them.

I don't think A&E is going to be that affected by this either in the long-term. Right now, there's a firestorm and it continues, but A&E doesn't want this show to go away.

I think A&E will do whatever it has to do to keep the show on the air if the Robertson family is willing to keep it on the air.

Keep in mind. They're under contract, so they're going to at least be there for a while to come.


SHANKMAN: They're not going anywhere.

FEYERICK: And what I'd like -- this question to both of you is that he criticizes rich kids, yuppies and pretty women who can't cook, but my take on that is that those are probably the safe people you can target in the sort of culture that --

SHANKMAN: Note the irony. The irony of this whole thing is the best thing that could happen to A&E, "Duck Dynasty" and Cracker Barrel is that this week, ironically enough, happens to be Christmas.


SHANKMAN: So, we'll forget about it a little bit. We'll come back next week. There will be another scandal.

STELTER: I checked in with A&E a few minutes ago, by the way. They're still saying, "No comment," but there are meetings again today about this. It's taking up their Christmas week.

FEYERICK: All right, Brian Stelter, Peter Shankman, thank you, gentlemen, both, for being here today with us. Thank you.

And our other big story today, the weather. This Christmas week, it is bizarre. It's cold where it's normally hot, hot where it's normally cold. Those details, next.


FEYERICK: Winter is officially here, and just two days before Christmas, much of the country is dealing with some wild and deadly weather.

From snow and ice to torrential rain and powerful winds, the extreme weather was blamed for at least 10 deaths.

But what was harsh in some places was like summer in others.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I came outside and everything was covered with ice, about a half inch. Went to clean off the car, and that was a fun task.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We were sitting in there for our afternoon snack, and just sitting there, wind came up and just - it went everywhere.

No clothes, the Christmas gifts were demolished, everything is gone.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It truly is a catastrophic ice storm that we've had here, probably one of the worst that we've ever had.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I brought boots to walk through snow. I have a heavy parka, and I was so warm yesterday that I had to buy a t-shirt so that I could come out.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The weather is great. It's fantastic. But it doesn't feel like Christmas. It's actually kind of like a global warming Christmas.

(END VIDEO CLIP) FEYERICK: Well, our extreme weather expert Chad Myers joins us now, live, from the CNN Center in Atlanta.

And, Chad, I'll tell you. Here in New York City, it was so ridiculously warm yesterday that it just felt unnatural.

What is behind all this and what can holiday travelers really expect?

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: It was warm down here, too. And I filled up my car with gas, and I went, wow, what a great day to fill up because tomorrow's going to be colder.

So, the cold air is behind the warm air that we had over the weekend and we had yesterday, of course.

But Hartford, New York, all the way down to Philadelphia, this is where the rain hit. There's been a big trough of ridge - a trough of low pressure in the West and a ridge in the East.

That's all shifting now, so we are going to get the colder air in here. That's because I'm going to New York to cover the weather for the next couple of days. That's why it's going to get cold. Never invite a weather man or you'll ruin your plans. Never invite a weather man to a golf outing either. That's the same idea.

There goes the rain, though, for tomorrow. A much better day traveling tomorrow than today. There are many planes that are delayed, not significant, two-, five-, 10-hour delays, but certainly 15-to-30 minutes because of the poor flight conditions there, low visibility, low ceilings and the planes have to separate themselves just a little bit.

But there's been so much weather the past couple of days that everywhere across the country is picking up something, whether you're picking up branches from the ice storm, shoveling some snow.

The next storm system is a very, very small one, only a couple of inches of snow. We're talking about a little clipper that comes down for Minnesota and Wisconsin. They expect the snow up there, anyway, Deb.

FEYERICK: And, Chad, just very quickly, is this -- how unusual are these sort of -- is this pattern of weather, this sort of hodgepodge quilt of weather all around the country? How normal is that for this time of year?

MYERS: It's a matter of this, is that the jet stream is now going up and down and up and down more significantly than it used to.

Not in this exact pattern right now, but when that happens, you get the extreme warm here, you get the extreme cold here.

What we like to see is a jet stream that does that and then everybody gets average or normal.

But that's not happening this year. FEYERICK: All right, Chad Myers for us, thanks so much.

MYERS: You're welcome.

FEYERICK: Well, the American who made a video poking fun at teens in the United Arab Emirates, he was sentenced today to one year in prison. He was also fined $2,700.

Shezanne Cassim was charged with endangering national security. The video was uploaded to the Internet and opens with the text saying it's fictional and it's not meant to offend.

CNN's Sara Sidner has the latest from Abu Dhabi.

SARA SIDNER, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Deb, everyone from the family to A-list Hollywood comedian Will Ferrell to the governor of Minnesota have been pushing to get a resolution to this UAE case that's got a lot of people scratching their heads.

In Abu Dhabi federal supreme court, there were some tears among family members and a sense of relief mixed with confusion as a judge in the UAE federal supreme court sentenced American Shezanne Cassim and his friends to prison time and a fine.

Cassim and two other foreign nationals were sentenced to one year in prison and a 10,000 dirham fine, which is roughly $2,700.

The two UAE nationals arrested were told to pay half that, and they were sentenced to eight months in prison.

Now, they've all already served nearly nine months in prison awaiting a verdict. And the families are hoping that the sentence will include time served, but that was not made clear during the hearing.

The men were sentenced under the UAE's cybercrime laws having to do with defaming the UAE's image abroad for an amateur film that they put together and posted on YouTube that was supposed to be a funny parody about life in the Dubai suburb.

Clearly, UAE authorities didn't find the video amusing and the judge convicted the men for it.

Now, Cassim's family members in Minnesota are beside themselves because they were hoping that he would be freed after the verdict and be home by Christmas. That is not likely to happen.


FEYERICK: All right, Sara Sidner for us in Abu Dhabi, thank you.

Well, mysterious teen deaths, military base shootings, bombings in Boston, brutal murders, extreme road rage, young women found after being kidnapped more than 10 years ago, coming up, we'll take a look back at the infamous crimes and trials of 2013.

Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

FEYERICK: Well, a surprising statement from al Qaeda, yesterday the leader in the Arabian peninsula apologized for a deadly attack on a hospital in Yemen earlier this month. The groups says it was targeting a defense ministry compound, but supposedly was trying to avoid both the hospital and mosque inside. Dozens of people were killed in that attack.

A super model killed by her famous boyfriend on Valentine's Day. A teenage athlete suffocated inside a gym mat, a shooting spree inside a military base. What do they have in common? Well, 2013, a look back at the year's most notorious crime, trials, and mysteries. Our guide is LEGAL VIEW anchor, Ashleigh Banfield.



CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: We have a report that shots have been fired at the Washington Navy Yard.

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: The U.S. Navy is telling us three shots were fired. They tell us an active shooter is still inside that building.

BANFIELD: Former Navy reservist Aaron Alexis, a military contractor, gunned down 12 people before police shot and killed him.

Number nine, the mysterious death of 17-year-old Kendrick Johnson.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I've got questions about the Kendrick Johnson case.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm not going to discuss that with you.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because our case is closed.

BANFIELD: His body found upside down in a rolled up wrestling mat in a high school gym last January. Local authorities ruled it an accident. Kendrick's parents believe he was murdered. Now federal authorities are investigating.

JACQUELYN JOHNSON, KENDRICK'S MOTHER: We are Kendrick Johnson. That's my child. And we're going to fight until it's all over.

BANFIELD: Number eight. Oscar Pistorius. The blade-runner. A double amputee. Beloved South African Olympic athlete. Indicted on charges of murder in August for the shooting of his model girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp. He admits that he shot her on Valentine's Day, but says it was an accident. His trial starts in March.

Number seven, California teen Hannah Anderson rescued after a week- long hunt for her abductor in August. Family friend, James DiMaggio, killed her mother and brother and the family dog. Their bodies, found in his burned home. FBI agents killed him in a shootout.

Number six. A woman who needs no introduction. Her outrageous behavior in the interrogation room. The brutal murder of her ex- boyfriend, and ex-rated details of her sex life, gripped the nation. Jodi Arias convicted of first-degree murder. But the jury could not decide if she should live or die for the crime.

Number five. A gang of bikers taking on an SUV driver on a highway in Manhattan. His wife and two-year-old daughter inside. It started with a bump. And moments later, this terrible scene. The driver runs over one biker. His wife says he was left paralyzed. Eleven other bikers, including an undercover cop, are indicted.

Number four. Edward Snowden. Branded by some as a hero. But others, a traitor. For exposing the NSA's spying programs in May. Perhaps the biggest intelligence leak in U.S. history. Charged with espionage. Granted asylum in Russia.

Number three. George Zimmerman found not guilty in July of murdering Trayvon Martin.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you think he's yelling help?


BANFIELD: A tragic case that ignited questions about race.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Trayvon Martin put race in this. You don't think that creepy ass cracker is a racial comment?


BANFIELD: A seventeen-year-old in a hoodie with a pack of skittles, enduring images from a case that's prompted cries for civil rights charges, and an emotional debate that even the president weighed in.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If I had a son, he would look like Trayvon.

BANFIELD: Since Zimmerman's acquittal, he's had a few other run ins with the law.

Number two. Inside a Cleveland house of horrors, three girls, kidnapped, raped and held captive for more than a decade. But on May 6, Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus, and Michele Knight finally broke free.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I will not let the situation define who I am.

I will live on. You will die a little every day.

BANFIELD: Ariel Castro, sentenced to life in prison plus more than 1,000 years.

ARIEL CASTRO, CONVICTED OF KIDNAPPING: I will not -- I'm not a monster.

BANFIELD: But ultimately he would do himself in, killing himself in the cell. That was 10 through two. This is number one.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Apparently there's been an explosion at the boston marathon.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: It's a 26-mile, 385 yard marathon, and it was wrapping up, wrapping up. When you look at these devastating pictures, right at the finish line. These were pictures that were shot moments ago.

BANFIELD: Double bombings at the finish line of the Boston Marathon on April 15th. Three people were killed, 264 others were wounded. And days later, a police officer would be killed. Another wounded. Within four days, one suspect, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, shot and killed by police. Then the manhunt for his brother that shut down the city.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We believe the suspect is cornered in a boat.

BANFIELD: Tsarnaev arrested April 19th and later charged. Now the U.S. attorney is deciding if he'll face the death penalty. The attack knocked the city down. But it was far from defeated.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I kind of feel like we're all Boston.

BANFIELD: The whole country united with one resounding message. Strong, not just strong, Boston strong.


FEYERICK: Ashleigh Banfield, thank you.

And you can vote on the top ten overall stories of 2013, just go to for Year in Review.

And big new developments in the Target credit card hacking story. The first class action lawsuits were filed against the big box retailer. This as Target tries to coax customers back into their stores with discounts.


FEYERICK: So we start this half hour with a secret service investigation, a wild manhunt, and millions and millions of your dollars at stake. That's just some of what's going on right now in the wake of that massive hack of customer information at Target.

In fact, if you haven't already dropped what you're doing, check your credit and debit card statements because 40 million accounts have been hacked. If you've shopped at the retailer anytime since Black Friday, someone or someones may have your name, credit or debit card numbers, the card expiration date, and even the security codes.

What's more, it's believed that the fake cards with the stolen information are now being put on fake cards already that are already hitting the streets. CNN's George Howell has the latest on what you need to know.


GEORGE HOWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Some last minute Christmas shoppers may be frozen in their tracks because of the massive security breach at Target. JPMorgan Chase the nation's largest bank has temporary placed limits on those customers potentially impacted by the hacking. Chase clients who shopped at U.S. Target stores between November 27th and December 15th can now only withdraw $100 a day from ATMs, their daily total spending now capped at $300.

With 40 million credit and debit card accounts now considered compromised, irate customers took Target to task online. One tweet reads, quote, my bank account got hacked and now I can't finish Christmas shopping @Target anything to help? Another chimed in, the moral of this story, Target hacking and Chase bank card limits -- have a backup plan, cash, paper checks, gift cards, one other bank card; and other hacked customers are asking why it wasn't noticed sooner.

ERICA EAKEN, HACKED TARGET CUSTOMER: They purchased six gift cards at $200, and as the person at the bank told me, they went for a seventh, and it was denied because I didn't have enough. I think that would have been suspicious.

HOWELL: U.S. senators Richard Blumenthal and Chuck Schumer are now demanding immediate federal investigations to prevent a breach like this from happening again.

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER, D-NY: We could get to the bottom of how Target's in-store payment security was compromised in order to make sure that Target in the future, and all other stores, adequately protect consumers from this kind of devastating theft.

HOWELL: Some customers in California have already filed what could become a class action lawsuit against Target saying the chain, quote, "failed to implement and maintain reasonable security procedures and practices."

Target said on Sunday it notified millions of affected customers via e-mail and is working with the Secret Service and financial institutions to resolve the problem. They also offered customers 10 percent store-wide discounts this weekend as well as free credit monitoring.


FEYERICK: And that was Goerge Howell reporting for us. We want to bring in now the legal panel for more on this.